April 2024
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True Confessions: Saigon Kid’s True Love Stories (Chapter 5)

As Saigon Kids we all ‘came from some place’ to Saigon. Most of us left a boy friend or girl friend ‘behind’ wherever we came from before arriving in Saigon. Most of us found a ‘new love’ shortly after arrival in Saigon. And, some of us found our ‘first love’ in Saigon. Ahhh, such sweet memories, they are! 🙂

Did you leave a ‘special someone’ behind?

How long were you in Saigon before finding a ‘new special someone’? Who was it?

Did you meet your ‘first love’ in Saigon? Who was it and how did you meet?

Do you remember that wonderful “first kiss” … and, where and when?

What was “your song” … that special song that you both called “our song” ?

When was your first ‘slow dance’ ?

What was it like when it came time for one of you to leave Saigon … (you know, that emotionally filled day when the world ended) ?

Did you keep in contact after one of you left Saigon?

Are you still in contact?

Share your sweet memories of those ‘highly emotional’ times of … oh sooooo sweet … Puppy Love!

Here’s a video from 1958 that I’m sure will bring back some memories. I know we all remember this song … 🙂

Brings back some sweet memories doesn’t it? 🙂

Leave your True Love stories of teenage romance in the Paris of the Orient in the comments section below 🙂


16 comments to True Confessions: Saigon Kid’s True Love Stories (Chapter 5)

  • Maile Doyle

    Okay Bob, here goes…I was just 14 in August 1961 when I arrived in Saigon, so had not yet “fallen” for anyone. I had a crush on Ernie Cutler, but then so did everyone else. He looked so much like Fonzie of Happy Days with his jet black hair…In fact that year, my little sisters would chant “Ernie, wow, he’s a doll” because they overheard me saying that to Arline Ames one day. Anyway, he was already attached, so I just dreamed from afar. 🙂

    Now, in 1962, RE (Ralph) Johnston moved to Saigon and we became an instant couple. I have several pictures of us together in the halls at school, at parties and dances and we were both in the “Solid Gold Cadillac”, our first theater production. RE was truly my first love. We went everywhere together. He was amazingly kind and gentle to me, to everyone. He was well liked by all, played center field on the baseball team, was selected Most Popular with Barbara Bush the same year I was selected Most School Spirit with Bill Wagner.

    We separated when he contracted hepatitis and was air lifted to the hospital in the Philippines. That same summer (1963) we were transfered back to Washington, DC and lost contact with each other. We found each other again a couple of years ago by email from Classmates.com. He then joined our blog, but has been silent for a while. We have not seen each other, but it sure was fun to just get in touch. I remember him and our dating year very fondly.It was a sweet time…

  • Admin


    A wonderful sweet story. Thank you for sharing with us. For some reason the song “I’ll Remember You” sung and composed by Kui Lee, then later made famous by Don Ho, comes to mind … 🙂

    “I’ll remember you long after this endless summer is gone …. “


  • Admin

    A picture is worth a thousand words. I had to promise Venita’s Mother that I would button up my shirt, put my collar down and roll down my sleeves before this picture was taken!

    Frank and Venita

    Gosh, what a guy was willing to do for love!


    [Admin Note: Frank why does the song “All For The Love Of A Girl” come to mind?! ]

  • Admin

    Geez Frank … Veny’s mom laid that trip on me too! I told her “No Wayyyyy! I’m Big Bad Bob. It’ll ruin my koolness!”

    Maybe, you should have too … cuz I got the girl, the dance and the picture … 🙂

    Venita and Bob

    Frank, note the turned up collar, shirt unbuttoned and sleeves rolled up in ‘true’ CLOD fashion … lol … (the pak of Lucky’s is turned up in the right sleeve) … 🙂

    How sweet the memories … 🙂


    PS: Frank – The song we’re dancing to is “Sweeter Than You” by Ricky Nelson ((GRIN)) … 🙂

  • alice ahlgren

    Maile…you and RE were such a great couple! So my turn.

    My first love and my first boyfriend was Mike Cooper – one of the Klan trio that also included Bill Wagner and Robbie Adams. Mike had beautiful blue eyes and a slightly crooked grin (every now and then) and he was pretty reserved and very intelligent – I ADORED him.

    Alice and Coop

    Remember the Johhny Mathis song “Chances Are”??

    “Chances are ’cause I wear a silly grin the moment you come into view
    Chances are you think that I’m in love with you
    Just because my composure sort of slips the moment that your lips meet mine
    Chances are you think my heart’s your valentine”

    Well, that was me whenever I was near Mike.

    Mike and I dated through much of 1963 and all through 1964. As he said in my ’63 yearbook “A complete list of all our little “adventures” would take a large book”…and he listed the Student Council, The Solid Gold Cadillac, and swimming races.

    Alice and Coop at Beach

    Seems my most memorable accomplishment in the eyes of the Saigon kids of 63-64 was getting Coop to dance! While Mike’s family stayed in Saigon, he returned to the States with me, my mother and my brother to attend his senior year at my high school in New Jersey (an academic decision on his parent’s part). We stayed together almost a year after our time in Saigon but then he broke up with me before the end of our senior year – I got replaced by a lovely young Junior with blond hair – I believe the ghost of my broken 17-year-old heart still haunts the streets of Saigon. Ain’t love grand!


  • frank

    Hey Bob, Are you sure, when you were dancing with Venita, that the song wasn’t “Bird Dog”? HA! I do have to admit, however, that you did have something going for you…Oh what was it?…Oh yes, that neat shirt! Lol…giggle!! Actually I like it!
    Funny, yesterday morning when I was driving to the high school, the radio station I was listening to, played Johnny Horton’s song….Yes, you guessed it. “For the Love of a Girl.” Had not heard that song on the radio for years!! Creepy!
    Yes, no blond (that I know of) came between Veny and I. It was a Boeing 707 and a thing called the Pacific Ocean. I last time I saw her was at 1:30 in the afternoon on 25 April 1961…but I got over her rather quickly!!
    When I arrived back in Saigon in May of ’62, the Haznams had moved back to Indonesia three weeks earlier. Oh well as Marty Robins sang…”The Story Of My Life.” Gosh, there was such great music back then.
    I remember Veny singing the song “A Thousand Stars In the Sky” to me as we’d walk hand-in-hand on some darkened, rain soaked, Saigon City Street. Ah yes Alice, what are the ghosts that linger there?
    Oh and by the way Alice, I can guarantee you, that Bob and I would not have dropped you, blond or no blond! Right Bob? Wow, what a “looker”! Yours, Frank (i.e. Charlie Brown…)

    I see in the picture BOB, you know, the one you are with “My Girl” …. is Georgia Turner dancing with ?, and Steve dancing with Dini. At the 2000 Phoenix reunion, Georgia and Dini looked the same as in 1961. Yes, I swear!
    In 1988, just after arriving at Fort Sill, I saw a highly decorated Colonel that looked familiar. Never talked to him. …I did not realize until after he departed for Alabama that it was Steve.

  • alice ahlgren

    Ah yes, what a typical male response Frank/Charles…my broken heart and bittersweet first love went way beyond “what a looker”…since you sent me wonderful CDs and clearly have intense ties to Saigon I count you as an SK friend even though you’re “an insensitive guy”….The LOOKER

  • mimi

    The passion of my sweet sixteen’s is not a “fairy tale ending” story but it is the story which explains why I am , in a little way, part of the Saigon Kids community, or rather, why the SKC is a part of me. So here, it is:

    I was ordering a sandwich at the pool bar, at CSS… 3 guys were sipping a soda … one of them turned around and we were for a few seconds nose to nose…that’s how I met Joe. For a few weeks we only looked at each other, then finally we talked, or rather, I talked. Joe was the silent type. Handsome and silent. I don’t really remember how the rest happened but it was a sweet, cosy and warm relationship. We would see each other every day as his house was just across Lycée Marie-Curie- some evenings too, when I could escape my mother watchfull eye, and we also took long rides on his motorbike, speeding through the rubber plantations, sometimes as far as Cap St Jacques or to a little hill near Bien Hoa where monks in a pagoda would foretell our never ending love in I-King sticks.

    I loved being with him, loved listening to “green fields” our favourite song, loved to see and hear him sing at the ball room of the CSS, loved his grin and shyness, loved everything about him. Then after a few months of pure bliss, Joe was abruptly sent back to the US by his parents.

    We wrote each other for a few years, I remember how happy I was when I moved to Canada as it was getting me closer to Joe. By then he had enlisted in the Coast Guard. Just when I was about rich enough to afford a trip to see him, he was sent to Italy. We gradually lost interest.

    Years later, I must have been near 30 by then, I began wondering what had happened of my sweet Joe. And there started a long quest of two decades through telephone operators and telephone books(everytime I went to the US I would check the phone books) but he was nowhere to be found, neither him or his parents.

    Then came the Internet, and my quest for Joe took a new turn. I combed the Coast guard, Washington DC, Falls church(his home town) , phoned or wrote to a few dozen persons who had the same name, without results. One day I remembered his brother Paul had mentionned he would be a lawyer, so I started looking for Paul in lawfirms. No Paul in lawfirms, but there was one teaching in a texan University, a website, a picture. That was THE Paul.
    My journalistic stubborness had paid off.

    I wrote Paul and got an e-mail the next day. Joe had died of a devastating cancer at 28. Greenfields were gone. It was like a sword in my heart.

    I tried to exorcise the “why” and “why him, of all people”, through long e-mails with Paul, it probably did us both some good. And it is Paul who gave me the cue on the web site Frank and Arlene had created for Saigon kids. And this is how, I got in touch with those of you I had known, Frank, Cheryl, Roy, Bob and the others.

    Take care guys…and big hugs to all.

    • Admin

      Mimi thank you so much for your wonderful and touching story of your “teenager’s romance” as Ricky Nelson (and Joe) used to sing about in the song “A Teenager’s Romance”. I’m posting this video as a tribute to Joe and your ‘love’ which lead you back to us and our Saigon Kids Community after 40+ years.

      Thank you for finding your way back to us, Mimi … those of us who knew you then and now cherish your friendship more than mere words can ever begin to express. You are a part of us, dwelling within our hearts eternally.


  • frank

    I found out about Joe at the 2000 Reunion. My instant thought was how did MiMi feel. I did not dare mention it to you. I was not brave enough.
    The song “Green Fields” was put on the Phoenix Reunion CD’s for a reason. MiMi, you will always be in our hearts. Frank

  • mimi

    oooh…you sweet friends!
    Thanx Bob for the song, it is so beautiful and so nostalgic. It “beams” me back so many years.
    xxx mimi

  • Frank

    Veny and Dini will be at the Saigon Reunion. Reporting from the North Shore of Ohau…Frank
    p.s. Veny, Dini and MiMi are also “Lookers”!!!

    • Admin

      Frank … AWESOME!! That Veny and Dini will be at the Reunion. How did that come to be???

      P.S. … To say Veny, Dini and Mimi are “Lookers” is a “GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT” !!!! All of them also have a wonderful ‘enter beauty’ that radiates to all who’s life they touch, as much, if not more than their ‘outer beauty’ … 🙂


  • Frank

    I totally agree!!! and I think that was Alice’s point! Yes,Bob…these wonderful people have touched us deeply and will be with us forever…and that is so cool!! I remember the first time I saw Veny…I remember the first time I saw Dini…I remember the first time I saw MiMi (and what she was wearing)…actually Bob, I remember the first time I met you You… There are only about a dozen people I remember this……Signing off!!!Being lazy on the North Shore…Monday head for Taipei…arrive in Hanoi next Thursday…do you want updates…where should I post them…

  • Admin

    Frank, I remember the first time I met Mimi. She was the ‘first’ girl I met in Saigon. I met her on my 2nd day in Saigon at the Cercle Sportif swimming pool. For some reason, whenever I reflect on my memories of meeting Mimi the song “the first time ever I saw your face” … comes to mind … 🙂

    I have it on my list of things to write about … what was going through my mind the first time I met Mimi and her two girlfriend that were with her on that day … (it’s not what you are thinking … Frank!! ha ha ha )


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